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Facebook Faces Ad Boycott

The advertising boycott of Facebook by a number of the biggest advertisers has been in all the news recently. The question we have, of course, is will this de-rail FB’s plans to roll out its new FB Shops, which this Newsletter reported upon last month? Certainly, the events leading up to the present situation FB faces today have been extremely rapid. Readers will recall that the story started when Twitter put a “possible fake news” label on some President Trump’s more outrageous tweets, the President immediately threatened to remove the legal protection on content enjoyed by the Social Media. Shortly after Mark Zuckerberg announced that he had contributed to President Trump’s re-election campaign, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement gained traction.  FB failed to follow Twitter, Instagram and other social media groups in removing hate speech and false news. It is now facing the consequences.

The company is now making efforts to rectify the situation – it will begin labelling media outlets on its platform that are partly or wholly controlled by state governments. The move is the latest in a series of steps to help users identify where their news is coming from. But the change falls short of policies critics wanted to see introduced. In order for FB to label a media outlet as state-controlled, it will need to meet a series of criteria. This means that FB will not label all outlets owned by governments or biased in favour of the government. For example, FB says that if there are enough editorial protections in place to ensure independence, it will not apply the label. It has removed a couple of the most provocative white power pages recently. Expect the discussion, the changes in FB policy and the ad. boycott to continue.

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Alastair Tempest

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